Dr Nadia Naser-Najjab
Senior Lecturer in Palestine Studies
I am from Palestine and went to Birzeit University for my undergraduate education. I completed my PhD in Middle East Studies at the University of Exeter.
Before I started my job with the University of Exeter, I worked at Birzeit University as an assistant-professor, Department of Philosophy and Cultural Studies, Department of Education Psychology and MA program in Arab Contemporary Studies. In spring, 2010, I was a visiting scholar at Georgetown University, The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. In the same year, I was Awarded AMIDEAST “Teaching Excellence Award” that recognizes teaching commitment to teaching and non-traditional class methods.
My research work is related to Palestine studies with emphasis on peace process, track II diplomacy, resistance, and civil society.
My PhD thesis analyses obstacles and difficulties that impede communication between Palestinians and Israelis. I explored the role People-to-People program as part of Oslo II agreement to encourage cooperation and contact as an effort to change attitudes, eradicate misconceptions and negative stereotypes among conflicting groups.
I evaluated the roles and agendas of the parties involved in the program and shed a light the asymmetry between Palestinians and Israelis that led to the failure of the program. I analysed the discrepancy between the Palestinian and Israeli participants in such projects within the wider political situation and conflict. I discussed the international donor’s role in the joint projects. This is to show how the program minimized the Palestine cause into attitudes and attitude change, ignoring facts on the ground related to the Israeli ongoing colonisation of Palestinians land.
While my own background in Social Psychology was of some help in enabling me to understand the theory, my own personal experiences (in my personal engagement with People-to-People Diplomacy Initiatives) helped me to understand how poorly attuned this theoretical framework of reference was to the practical realities on the ground.
In shifting towards an alternative framework of reference, I have increasingly drawn upon the paradigm of settler colonialism. I have, therefore, studied the People-to People Programme, using the settler colonialism lens in my recent book entitled Dialogue in Palestine: The People-to-People Diplomacy Programme and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Bloomsbury Publishing. 2020.
Research group links
My research is based on first-hand experience and original data collection and focuses on Palestine-Israel peace process, Palestinian education and Palestinian resistance. Given the rapid changes on the ground that is diminishing the prospect of the two-state solution, my research is aimed at providing alternative peaceful settlement. In my research I challenge solutions endorsed by the international community and the Palestinian leadership as the only available trajectory to peace.
Using the settler-colonialism lens will provide alternative outlook to the cause and the solution to provide the concerned partners a different way of thinking. My recent publications are based on extensive interviews with Palestinian leaders of the first intifada, Palestinian Authority, activists and civil society actors.
My research is focused on deconstructing the Palestine-Israel discourse of peace and peace process since Oslo interim agreement in 1993 using settler colonialism paradigm. I focus on related issues to the peace process, including the role of the international community. I also study the changing role of Palestinian political parties and civil society in resistance. I examine the role of Israeli and international solidary groups in Palestinian struggle and resistance.
Postgraduate research topics that I am currently supervising include:
- Foreign Spouses of Palestinians: a case of permanent temporariness
- Palestinian Masculinities under Occupation. Military Checkpoints as spaces for reproducing masculinities, using the case studies of Palestinian men from Qalandiya and Hizma communities
- Socialising Hamas: Evaluating the Structural Political Developments in the Islamic Palestinian Movement between 2006-2017
- The District between Life and Death: Israel’s Deliberate Disablement and Debilitation of PalestineT
- To what extent have Israeli and international peace movements effectively challenged the Israeli settler colonial project after the first Intifada?
- “Hebrew Labour” (AVODA IVRIT) as a pivotal Zionist instrumental concept. Ideological teaching and social structuring in the Zionist Labour Youth Movement Reading the official movement’s Magazine BAMAALE 1926 – 1935.
My research students work on variety of topic, including history, historiography, refugees and more contemporary topics related to resistance and facts on the ground.
One of my PhD students, Gabriel Polley published a peer-reviewed article in Journal of Holy Land and Palestine Studies, April 2019. The article is entitled’ From Karm al-Khalil to Kerem Avraham: A British Settler-Colonial Outpost Near Jerusalem in the Nineteenth Century’.
European Center for Palestine Studies creates opportunities for our PhD students to explore and develop their research skill. In 2016, I organized and led a workshop on Palestinian Oral History in cooperation with the Jafet Library Archives at the American University of Beirut (AUB). The Archives include interviews with first-generation Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Our PhD students visited the Archives and Special Collections at the AUB and were introduced to the archive and the significance of the project.
During lockdown, we have worked with our research students and organised online activities related to their research. This helped in building an online community. Also, we helped our research students organise postgraduate seminar series entitled ‘Framing Palestine’ and invited speakers to talk about different topics related to Palestine.
I serve as a Trustee of the Council for British Research in the Levant (CBRL).
I became a member of the intellectual committee of Palestine forum, an initiative that includes Palestinian intellectuals, academics, artists and activists from occupied territory, historical Palestine and exile. The Forum organises workshops and seminars and invites speakers to exchange ideas and views on rebuilding Palestinian institutions and examine future solutions. This enables me to share non-western research and material in Arabic, that is not available in English language with students to improve their knowledge.
I introduce our students to Palestinian students and activists and help in organising online events related to current issues and their research.
I also review books written in Arabic language to share knowledge with English peaking students and scholars.